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  • Writer's pictureKathie McClure

STR Community Steps Forward at City of Atlanta Joint Work Session

The Atlanta STR community turned out in force at City Council's March 30th Work Session focused on proposed revisions to the Atlanta's STR ordinance, with many STR hosts speaking in opposition to the Department of City Planning's proposal. Council members on the Zoning and CDHS Committees made statements and posed questions to Jahnee Prince, the recently appointed Commissioner of the Planning Department, and Greg Pace, the Director of Buildings, which has purview over regulation of short-term rentals.

The Planning Department's proposed revision to the current STR ordinance would (1) eliminate the primary residence requirement, (2) impose a 2,000 foot buffer between STRs in single-family and two-family residences, and (3) impose a 33% cap on STRs in multi-family buildings with 3-12 units and a 15% cap on STRs in buildings with 13 or more units. Commissioner Prince offered no policy explanation for the proposed 2,000 foot buffer. She asserted that current licensees and those applying during the 45-day period after passage would be "grandfathered" despite the fact that the legislation does not expressly provide legal protections for these applicants.

AMSTRA spoke in opposition to the proposed revision, especially with respect to the 2,000 foot buffer that it believes would dramatically limit the number of STR licenses. Instead, AMSTRA proposed a percentage cap on the number of STRs based on the total number of dwelling units in the City of Atlanta, as well as caps on STR's in multi-family buildings with 5-12 units and 13 or more units. Additionally, AMSTRA proposed (1) legal protection of units entitled to grandfather rights, and (2) the creation of owner-occupied and operator-occupied licenses that would not be subject to caps. The Planning Department announced at the meeting that it has engaged Granicus Host Compliance to provide support for the City's STR registration process, compliance monitoring including identification of unregistered STR's, a 24/7 hotline for neighbor complaints, and tax collection. A copy of the Department's presentation can be accessed here.

Data supplied by Granicus identified 10,852 short-term rental listings representing 8,794 unique rental units in the City of Atlanta as of February 2023. Yet, the Planning Department announced that only 1,115 STR licenses have been issued since March 1, 2022. While concerning to Council members, the relatively small number of issued licenses is unsurprising given that the STR ordinance has never been enforced because of the Planning Department's repeated extensions of the enforcement date amid concerns with the "legal defensibility" of the ordinance.

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